I was born to live by the ocean. That’s the realization I had the week I spent in Puerto Vallarta, located in the state of Jalisco. The last time I had been to the beach before this trip was almost 10 years ago. My visit to Coney Island in the middle of winter about 5 years ago doesn’t count. I don’t know why I waited so long, though. I’ve always loved the beach, the ocean and hot weather, as long as there’s a large body of water nearby.
Puerto Vallarta is located in the Bahia de Banderas (Bay of Flags) on the Pacific Ocean. The municipality belongs to the state of Jalisco. The state of Nayarit borders to the north. Puerto Vallarta is a relatively new town. The first modern settlers arrived in 1851, but it wasn’t until 1935 that the village gained the status of municipality. Puerto Vallarta is surrounded by the Sierra Madre Occidental, part of the mountain range that crosses the American continent from Canada to Argentina. This topography isolated the coast from the outside world until the middle of the 20th century when Mexicana de Aviacion (a Mexican airline) inaugurated its first Guadalajara-Puerto Vallarta flight.
Visitors with a sense of adventure from other parts of Mexico and all over the world started to come to Puerto Vallarta by plane or car. The only road that leaded into the town was impassable during the rainy season and cattle had to be buzzed off from the runway before planes could land. The road from the airport to the town was unpaved and during the rainy season people had to cross the Pitilal river on boats and donkeys carried the luggage the rest of the way.
In the early 1960s Puerto Vallarta received simultaneously big Hollywood stars, national celebrities and American intellectuals for the shooting of the film “The Night of the Iguana”. The extraordinary gathering of celebrities, that included Deborah Kerr, Ava Gardner, Sue Lyon, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton among others, captive in an out-of-the-way spot, was too tempting for the international press that soon began arriving in hordes. The media showed the primeval beauty of the place.
At that moment Puerto Vallarta stopped being “a secret hide-away waiting to be discovered” to become an international tourist destination. In the face of the growing demands of tourism, the need for an adequate response from authorities and investors became urgent, and the governor of Jalisco, Francisco Medina Ascencio, was there to promote the change. With his efforts, Puerto Vallarta was outfitted with the infrastructure required of an urban development and a modern tourist destination.
I had visited Puerto Vallarta before with my family. But it was so long ago, more than 20 years, that I don’t even remember that trip. These 8 days we spent there made me fall in love with the beautiful town, its people, beaches, mountains and weather that I’m seriously considering moving there. A friend says that summers in Puerto Vallarta are very hot and humid and it doesn’t stop raining for months. However, as I mentioned above, I don’t mind hot and humid as long as there is a large body of water nearby, and the Pacific is right there…Besides, I don’t think I’d ever get tired of this:
But how about the food? We had some amazing food at the markets, some restaurants, on the street and on the beach. As many of you who follow this blog know I’m a fan of Mexican markets. So the first thing we did when we arrived was to look for the local market in old Vallarta (the part of town where we stayed) to eat. One of our greatest finds of the week was Fonda La Marina inside the municipal market. The food was just amazing! The tortillas were handmade and the mole, beans and agua fresca (juice) was just extraordinary. I had sea food tostadas, one octopus, one shrimp and one ceviche. We liked that place so much that we went back a second time. With only 8 days to explore the local cuisine going twice to the same place meant that we REALLY enjoyed the food.
In my next post I will write about the activities we did in Puerto Vallarta and some more delicious food we tried there. For now I’ll remain in my concrete cage dreaming of the ocean, the beach and the beautiful sunsets over the Pacific.